2019 IRS Standard Mileage Rates | IRS Tax Lawyer & Attorney

On December 14, 2018, the IRS issued the 2019 optional standard mileage rates used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical or moving purposes. Let’s discuss in a bit more depth these new 2019 IRS Standard Mileage Rates.

Beginning on Jan. 1, 2019, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car (also vans, pickups or panel trucks) will be:

  • 58 cents per mile driven for business use, up 3.5 cents from the rate for 2018,
  • 20 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes, up 2 cents from the rate for 2018, and
  • 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations.

The business mileage rate increased 3.5 cents for business travel driven and 2 cents for medical and certain moving expense from the rates for 2018. The charitable rate is set by statute and remains unchanged.

According to the IRS Rev. Proc. https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-drop/rp-10-51.pdf2010-51, a taxpayer may use the business standard mileage rate to substantiate a deduction equal to either the business standard mileage rate times the number of business miles traveled. If he does use the 2019 IRS standard mileage rates, then he cannot deduct the actual costs items. Even if the 2019 IRS standard mileage rates are used, however, the taxpayer can still deduct as separate items the parking fees and tolls attributable to the use of a vehicle for business purposes.

It is important to note that under the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, taxpayers cannot claim a miscellaneous itemized deduction for unreimbursed employee travel expenses. With the exception of active duty members of Armed Forces, taxpayers also cannot claim a deduction for moving expenses. Notice-2019-02. As in previous years, a taxpayer may not use the business standard mileage rate for a vehicle after using any depreciation method under the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS) or after claiming a Section 179 deduction for that vehicle. In addition, the business standard mileage rate cannot be used for more than four vehicles used simultaneously.

Sherayzen Law Office advises taxpayers that they do not have to use the 2019 IRS standard mileage rates. They have the option of calculating the actual costs of using his vehicle rather than using the standard mileage rates. In such a case, all of the actual expenses associated with the business use of the vehicle can be used: lease payments, maintenance and repairs, tires, gasoline (including all taxes), oil, insurance, et cetera.

Non-Resident Alien Spouse and Joint U.S. Tax Return

This article will cover the options that are available for married couples where one spouse is a non-resident alien and the other is a U.S. citizen. A nonresident alien is an alien who has not passed the green card test or the “substantial presence test” under IRS rules. For the purposes of this article, a “married couple” will refer solely to this specific situation.

Election to File Joint Return

Although a non-resident alien who does not have U.S. source income is generally not required to file a U.S. tax return, in some instances it may be beneficial for a non-resident alien married to a U.S. citizen to do so. If the married couple meets certain criteria, they may elect to file a joint return.

The criteria is as follows: A married couple may elect to treat the non-resident alien as a U.S. resident, if the couple is married at the end of the taxable year. This also includes instances in which one of the spouses is a non-resident alien at the beginning of the year, but becomes a resident alien at the end of the year, and the other spouse is a non-resident alien at the end of the year.

Reason for Electing to File a Joint Return

There are numerous reasons why a non-resident alien in a married couple may elect to file a joint return. For instance, the non-resident alien may have U.S. source income, in which case U.S. taxes will likely be owed in any event. Thus, filing a joint return may result in less taxes paid, depending on tax brackets, type of income and applicable deductions.

It may also make sense in certain circumstances for a non-resident alien who does not have U.S. source income to file a joint return. Additionally, a non-resident alien filing a joint return may be allowed to claim possible credits on foreign income taxes paid, such as the Foreign Tax Credit.

Note however, in certain circumstances, the non-resident alien spouse of the married couple filing the joint return may still be treated as a non-resident alien (such as for the tax purposes of IRC Chapter 3 Withholding, Social Security, or Medicare).

Applicable Rules

Married couples must file a joint return in the year they first elect to treat the non-resident alien as a resident alien for tax purposes. Both spouses will be considered to be residents for tax purposes for all years that the election is in effect. While a joint income return must be filed for the year the election is made, a joint or separate return may be filed in later years.

By electing to file the joint return, both spouses must report all worldwide income on the return. In general, neither spouse will be able to claim tax treaty benefits as a resident of a foreign country in the years in which the election is made, although this will depend upon the specifics of each treaty.

Making The Election

Married couples may make the election by attaching a statement, signed by both spouses, to the joint return for the first tax year that the election is made. (See specific IRS requirements for more details). Married couples may also make the election by filing a amended Form 1040X joint tax return (however, any tax returns filed after the tax year of the amended return must also be amended).

Ending or Suspending the Election

Once the election is made, it will apply to all subsequent tax years, unless it is ended or suspended. An election may be ended by various means, such as the death of either spouse, legal separation, revocation by either spouse, or inadequate records (See Publication 519, U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens, for more details). Once the election is ended, neither spouse may make the election in subsequent tax years.

An election is suspended if neither spouse is a US citizen or resident alien at any time during a later tax year. Married couples may resume the election however if the required criteria are eventually met again in subsequent tax years.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office

This article is intended to give you a brief summary of these issues. If you have further questions regarding these matters as it pertains to your own tax circumstances, Sherayzen Law Office offers professional advice in all of your tax and international tax needs. Call now at (952) 500-8159 to discuss your tax situation with an experienced international tax attorney.

Tax Lawyers St Paul: Tax Filing Deadline Extended to April 18, 2011

On January 4, 2011, IRS extended the tax filing and tax payment deadline for individual taxpayers until April 18, 2011.  The extension is made due to the Emancipation Day, a holiday observed in the District of Columbia, which falls this year on Friday, April 15, 2011.

Taxpayers who request an extension will have until October 17, 2011, to file their 2010 tax returns.

This year, the IRS expects to receive more than 140 million individual tax returns this year, with most of those being filed by the April 18 deadline.

The IRS also cautioned taxpayers with foreign accounts to properly report income from these accounts and file the appropriate forms on time to avoid stiff penalties. IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman stated earlier that the IRS “will continue to focus on offshore tax compliance and people with offshore accounts need to pay taxes on income from those accounts.”

Sherayzen Law Office is an experienced tax law firm that has helped numerous clients in Minnesota and across the United States to bring their affairs, including proper reporting of foreign financial accounts, into full compliance with the U.S. tax laws.

Contact Sherayzen Law Office NOW to discuss your case with an experienced St Paul tax lawyer!

Recently Married Taxpayers: Five Basic Tips

If you are getting married this year, this may have a significant impact on your tax returns for the year 2010. While you are likely to deal with most of these changes when you will be filing your tax return for the tax year 2010, there are some basic administrative actions that you should be taken right now.

1. Notify the Social Security Administration (“SSA”). Report any name change to the SSA, so that your name and Social Security Number will match when you file your next tax return. Informing the SSA of a name change is quite simple. File a Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card, at your local SSA office.

2. Notify the IRS. If you have a new address you should notify the IRS by sending Form 8822, Change of Address.

3. Notify the U.S. Postal Office. You should also notify the U.S. Postal Service when you move so it can forward any IRS correspondence

4. Notify Your Employer. Report any name and address changes to your employer(s) to make sure you receive your Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, after the end of the year.

5. Tax Withholding. If both you and your spouse work, your combined income may place you in a higher tax bracket. You can use the IRS Withholding Calculator available on IRS.gov to assist you in determining the correct amount of withholding needed for your new filing status. The IRS Withholding Calculator will even provide you with a new Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate, you can print out and give to your employer so they can withhold the correct amount from your pay.

Fee Agreement Arrangements with Tax Lawyers in St. Paul: 5 Most Important Issues

In this article, I will discuss five most important issues that you need to know before you sign a fee agreement with tax lawyers in St. Paul.

1. How is the lawyer’s fee paid? There are three main models of payment that lawyers use: hourly fee, contingency fee, and flat fee. The hourly fee is the most common form of tax lawyer compensation and it is fairly simple – the tax attorney is paid only based on the time he spends on the case. If you’re paying your tax lawyer by the hour, the agreement should set out the hourly rates of the tax attorney and anyone else in this attorney’s office who might work on the case. The contingency fee arrangement, where the tax attorney takes a percentage of the amount the client wins at the end of the case, is almost never used by tax attorneys in St. Paul. In the unlikely case that this latter type of fee arrangement is used, the most important issue to understand is whether the tax lawyer deducts the costs and expenses from the amount won before or after you pay the lawyer’s percentage. Obviously, you will pay more in attorney fees if your tax lawyer deducts the litigation costs based on the latter scenario (i.e. after you pay the lawyer’s fee). Finally, in a flat fee arrangement, you pay an agreed-upon amount of money for a project. For example, you pay $3,000 to your tax attorney to file delinquent FBARs (Reports on Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts) for the past five years. While a flat fee arrangement is possible in a small project, it is generally disliked by tax lawyers in St. Paul because it often lacks the necessary flexibility to account for the client’s individual legal situation. Usually, some sort of an additional payment arrangement is built into such fee agreements to make sure that the balance between the client’s legal needs and the tax attorney’s fees is maintained.

Remember, usually, you will have to pay out-of-pocket expenses (e.g. long-distance calls, mailing costs, photocopying fees, lodging, etc.) and litigation costs (such as court filing fees) in addition to your tax lawyer’s fees.

2. Does the agreement include the amount of the retainer? Most tax lawyers in St. Paul require their client to pay a retainer. Retainer can mean two different fee arrangements. First, retainer may be the amount of money a client pays to guarantee a tax attorney’s commitment to the case. Under this arrangement, the retainer is not a form of an advance payment for future work, but a non-refundable deposit to secure the lawyer’s availability. Second, a retainer is simply the amount of money a tax attorney asks his client to pay in advance. In this scenario, the lawyer usually deposits the retainer in a client trust account and withdraws money from it for the work completed according to the fee agreement. The fee agreement should specify the amount of the retainer and when the lawyer can withdraw money form the client trust account (usually, on a monthly basis).

3. How often will you be billed? Most tax attorneys in St. Paul bill their clients on a monthly basis. Sometimes, however, when the project is not large, the fee agreement will specify that you will be billed upon completion of the case. In a flat-fee scenario, it is likely that the client will be obligated to pay either a half or even the whole amount immediately as a retainer. It is wise for a client to insist in paying some part of the fee upon completion of the case to retain a degree of control over the case completion.

4. What is the scope of the tax attorney’s representation? Most tax lawyers in St. Paul will insist on defining their obligations in the fee agreement. The most important issue here is to state what the tax attorney is hired for without defining it either too narrowly or too broadly. Usually, a fee agreement should specify that a new contract should be signed if you decide to hire this tax lawyer to handle other legal matters.

If you are hiring a large or a mid-size law firm, beware that the partners in a law firm often delegate some or all of their obligations to their associates or even their staff. While the partners retain full responsibility for the case, there is a danger that important parts of it may be delegated to far less experienced associates. Besides the potential quality issues, there is also a concern that you would be paying a large hourly fee for a first-year associate’s work. It is important to insist that the fee agreement specifies what, if any, type of work is being delegated to the associates, the corresponding billing rate of each associate involved, and who carries the responsibility for the whole case.

5. Who controls what decisions? Whether this information should be included in the fee agreement really depends on a case and on an attorney. Generally, tax attorneys in St. Paul let their clients make the important decisions that affect the outcome of the case (such as: acceptance or rejection of the IRS settlement offer, commencement of a lawsuit, business decisions, et cetera). All of the decisions with respect to the legal issues (such as: where to file a lawsuit, what motions should be filed, what negotiation tactics should be employed, how to structure a business transaction from a tax perspective, etc.) are usually taken by the tax lawyers. If there are any changes to this arrangement (for example, you want your lawyer to make certain decisions with the respect to the outcome of the case), you should insist that these modifications be reflected in the fee agreement.

Generally, before you sign the fee agreement, tax lawyers in St. Paul will discuss with you many more topics than what is covered in this article. The five issues explained here, however, are crucial to your understanding of how the tax relationship with your tax attorney will work. Before you sign the fee agreement with your tax lawyer, you should ask at least these five questions and make sure that the answers are complete and to your satisfaction.